Map of the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. The government signed peace agreements in the red agencies/ districts (the military said Shangla was under Taliban control in October); purple districts are under de facto Taliban control; yellow regions are under Taliban influence.
The US has attacked a Taliban safe house in the lawless tribal agency of South Waziristan, killing seven, including three “foreigners,” on Thursday.
An unmanned Predator aircraft fired at least one Hellfire missile at a Taliban safe house adjacent to a religious school in the town of Azam Warzak. “The missile hit a house adjacent to a madrassa (Islamic seminary),” a Pakistani intelligence official told Reuters. “Seven people are killed. Most of those killed are Punjabis,” Pakistanis from the eastern province of Punjab.
No senior leaders have been reported killed in the strike.
The US scored a major kill in Azam Warzak last summer. A Predator attack killed Midhat Mursi al Sayyid Umar, a senior al Qaeda commander who is better known as Abu Khabab al Masri, along with four members of his staff. Khabab was a senior bomb maker and chief of al Qaeda’s weapons of mass destruction program.
Background on the recent strikes inside Pakistan
The US attacks inside Pakistan have tapered off the past six weeks after a high operational tempo in September and October, when strikes into Pakistan averaged two to three a week. Only seven attacks have been recorded in November and the first two weeks of December. The majority of these attacks have been inside North and South Waziristan.
Attacks in the tribal areas have decreased in frequency over the past six weeks as al Qaeda and the Taliban have taken additional security precautions, a senior US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal. “They have either gone to ground or are limiting their movements and meetings to reduce their visibility,” the official said.
There have been 34 recorded cross-border attacks and attempts in Pakistan this year, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Twenty-seven of these attacks took place since Aug. 31. There were only 10 recorded strikes during 2006 and 2007 combined.
The strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas have disrupted al Qaeda and the Taliban’s operations, but will not dislodge the groups from power in the region.
The US campaign in Pakistan is aimed at disrupting al Qaeda’s ability to attack the West, US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal on Sept. 19.
US intelligence believes the next attack launched against the West will originate from Pakistan’s tribal areas, where al Qaeda operates 157 known training camps, intelligence officials told The Long War Journal in August.
The US strikes inside Pakistan’s tribal areas have killed five senior al Qaeda leaders this year. All of the leaders were involved in supporting al Qaeda’s external operations directed at the West.
Abu Laith al Libi, a senior military commander in Afghanistan, was killed in a strike in North Waziristan in January. Abu Sulayman Jazairi, al Qaeda’s external operations chief, was killed in a strike in Bajaur in March. Abu Khabab al Masri, al Qaeda’s weapons of mass destruction chief, and several senior members of his staff were killed in a strike in South Waziristan in July. Khalid Habib, the leader of al Qaeda’s paramilitary forces in the tribal areas, was killed in North Waziristan in October. Abu Jihad al Masri, the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group and member of al Qaeda’s top council, was also killed in North Waziristan this October.
Two other senior al Qaeda leaders are rumored to have been killed, but their deaths have not been confirmed.
Tahir Yuldashev, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, was targeted in a Nov. 7 strike in South Waziristan that wounded Taliban leader Mullah Nazir. Abdullah Azzam al Saudi, an al Qaeda leader involved with external strikes and the recruitment and training of operatives, is thought to have been killed in the Nov. 19 strike in Bannu, the first recorded US attack outside of Pakistan’s tribal areas.
US attacks inside Pakistan and incidents along the border in 2008:
Dec. 11, 2008
Dec. 5, 2008
Nov. 29, 2008
Nov. 21, 2008
Nov. 19, 2008
Nov. 14, 2008
Nov. 7, 2008
Oct. 31, 2008
Oct. 31, 2008
Oct. 26, 2008
Oct. 22, 2008
Oct. 16, 2008
Oct. 11, 2008
Oct. 9, 2008
Oct. 3, 2008
Oct. 1, 2008
Sept. 25, 2008
Sept. 22, 2008
Sept. 17, 2008
Sept. 15, 2008
Sept. 12, 2008
Sept. 8, 2008
Sept. 5, 2008
Sept. 4, 2008
Sept. 3, 2008
Aug. 31, 2008
Aug. 31, 2008
Aug. 20, 2008
Aug. 13, 2008
July 28, 2008
June 14, 2008
May 24, 2008
March 16, 2008
March 13, 2008
Feb. 28, 2008
Jan. 31, 2008
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